A US judge says social networks cannot be held accountable for the murderous actions of their users.
A district court in Dallas, Texas, dismissed with prejudice this week the idea that the major social networking sites in America harbored the sentiment that lead to the shooting and death of five Dallas police officers in July last year.
Judge Joseph Spero found that Facebook could not be directly connected to the ideals that lead to the shooting, and no damages could be claimed against the social network by the families of the police officers killed.
"Plaintiffs do not plausibly allege a connection between Hamas and the Dallas shooting, and thus fail to establish that Defendants‘ alleged support of Hamas was a proximate cause of Plaintiffs‘ injuries," the judgment reads.
The case stems from a 2016 killing spree, in which an extremist gunman opened fire on Dallas police, murdering five officers. The shooter was slain when cops strapped a bomb to a remote-controlled robot and blew him up with it.
Survivors of the fallen officers alleged that Facebook, Twitter, and Google should bear the responsibility for the deaths because they did not move to stop the social networking posts that allegedly motivated the killer.
The defense argued that the social networks were shielded by America's Communications Decency Act (CDA) as they were not directly responsible for what their users opted to post. Judge Spero agreed, finding that Facebook and others only let users post stuff that was lawfully allowed – and in this case, the material linked to the killer was within the bounds of the CDA.
As such, in the eyes of the judge, the people suing Facebook et al ran out of reasons to sue, and thus the case was thrown out, at the web giants' request.
"At the hearing, Plaintiffs were not able to identify additional factual allegations they could make to resolve this deficiency if given leave to amend," the judge found.
"Most if not all of Plaintiffs‘ claims are also barred by the CDA. Defendants‘ motion is therefore granted, and the action is dismissed with prejudice." ®